Saturday, October 30, 2004

Moving Mailboxes

It’s been a busy work weekend. Started working at about eleven o’clock Friday night on configuring snapshot backups for a new storage group that the CFO’s mailbox was moved to recently. I just happened to notice that it wasn’t being backed up. Than took about two hours, prep work, configuration, and then about fifty steps to ensure that the CFO’s mail would work and be restored, and most importantly, that the blackberry worked too.

I was supposed to call into a meeting at seven o’clock in the morning on Saturday, but I woke up just a little too late. I got an e-mail with all the information I needed and I was able to start moving mailboxes. They are huge! Many mailboxes are over a gig, I have to move them over the WAN from California to Baltimore. I think the link is a T3, but it sure isn’t moving like a T3, probably other utilization. So the day has been spent watching a progress bar go across the terminal session screen, while on my other monitor, I started a new Civilization III game.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Dinner at Red Lobster

Amy and I went out to dinner last night, to Red Lobster, as the title of this entry suggests. Amy was pretty hungry, and everything seemed to take longer than normal. First there was Frederick traffic, then it took them about forty minutes to seat us after saying fifteen to twenty, after that it seemed to take forever for our food to come out. It was good though, spent a little to much money, seventy dollars in the end, but Amy and I enjoyed the dinner, so I guess it was worth it.

On another note, we took Alex to McDonalds before he was to be picked up for visitation with his father. We got him a cheese burger happy meal, with fries and chocolate milk. His favorite part was the chocolate milk. He ate a few fries and a few bites of his burger. He didn’t seem that hungry. I want him to get used to cheese burgers, they are cheaper than nuggets, plus, we don’t want Alex to only eat one thing all the time.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Andrew’s Savings Bonds

Andrew’s savings bonds arrived yesterday. I thought they would take a few weeks. They took only about 10 days to arrive. It was a pretty big stack, 21 bonds. I have never seen a savings bond bigger than $100 before. I became interested in the presidents that are on the bonds. The $200 bond has James Madison, the $100 has Thomas Jefferson, and the $50 gets George Washington. I was curious so I did a google search and found out that Alexander Hamilton is on the $500. I should really get Alex a $500 savings bond now. Savings bonds also come in $75 – John Adams, $1000 – Benjamin Franklin, $5000 – Paul Revere, and $10,000 – James Wilson. Paul Revere? How did he end up in the mix? Ask 100 high school seniors and I bet one or less of them will have any clue who James Wilson is, a notable member of congress in the late 1770’s and 1780’s (yeah, I had to google that too).

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Amy and the SIMS

AMY: lol..I made us try for a baby for the first was funny. arms and legs were sticking out of the bed and fireworks were going. So unrealistic.

I think she is trying to tell me something -- hmm, are we missing fireworks in the bedroom?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Treasury Direct

I’m a little disappointed. I didn’t realize that I would not receive paper savings bonds when I purchased them from Treasury Direct. I’m glad I purchased Andrew’s $2200 dollars worth of savings bonds at the bank. I will actually get the paper bonds. I guess it is a good thing that I only purchased two $25 bonds from treasury direct. If I were buying them for myself, the treasury direct method would be fine, but for the kids, I would like the physical piece of paper.

Flight Simulator Fun

So far I’ve crashed the Bell 206B Jetranger a few times. I just can’t seem to fly the helicopter in this flight simulator. I think I might actually need rudder pedals.

I decided create a custom flight from Andrews Air Force Base to Baghdad International Airport (Flight Simulator 2002 still calls it Saddam International Airport). I setup in the Boeing 747-400 and flew about 400 miles before I broke it. Somehow, I ended up going to fast and my airplane broke due to overspeed stress. With the 747, I was really able to take advantage of my dual monitor setup because it has a huge throttle control panel. Also in my second monitor I was watching the spot plane view, and saw the contrails streaming from my engines. I decided to mess around a bit, and cut off one of the engines to see if the contrail would disappear. Sure enough it did. Powering up the engine is probably what caused me to overspeed and die. Oh well, it was cool.

Computer Speakers

I’m such a cheapskate, I didn’t order speakers with my computer. I remember having several sets of speakers at some point, but it seems that I am down to just one set. Since Amy had a laptop, she didn’t use speakers. When I got my new computer, Amy got my old computer and I hooked the speakers up for her. Now, I’m soundless. I’ve been meaning to swing by best buy and pick up a set of speakers, but it has slipped my mind every time, until I get home and don’t feel like going out anymore. I should also get some decent headphones. I often disturb Amy’s TV watching with some hard core gaming.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Computers Set Up

The computers are basically set up, with the basic operating system and programs installed, all moved to where they belong. I’m enjoying my dual monitor setup. And it seems that Amy is enjoying the power of a 3GHz system with a decent video card.

Besides using dual monitors for productive things like work, I wanted to see what it did for Microsoft Flight Simulator. I decided to try flying the helicopter again. One of the hard parts about the chopper is that the control panels take up most of the view, making it a little hard to fly and see where you are going.

Amy is playing her new game, SIMS 2. She has been wanting that since before it was release, but her old computer could never run it. I’m surprised she even ran the original SIMS with all the expansion packs, it took 20 minutes just to start the game, well, maybe 15.

In other news, the Ravens won today and its time to take out the trash.

Happy Birthday Andrew

I can’t believe that my son is nine years old already. It is my weekend with him but this year it is his mother’s turn to have him for his birthday. It was supposed to work out that I would pick him up at 5:00PM on his birthday, yesterday. But his mother offered for me to pick him up Friday night like I normally would for my weekend and return him at 5:00PM on Saturday. That really worked out for me since I work fairly close to where he lives with his mother, it saved me a lot of driving.

Yesterday we had a pizza lunch with just Amy & Alex, then we had Amy’s home made from scratch chocolate cake with vanilla icing. It was even decorated. We put nine candles on the cake and of course, I had to blow them out for him. After cake, we cleaned up and opened presents. Anyone who knows Andy knows that he doesn’t really like opening presents. He received a Wiggles pillow from my mom, a book from Amy’s mom, some toy cars from my Aunt Joyce, and a check from my Aunt Gloria. I hadn’t picked up a present for him yet so after opening presents, we went to Toys’R’Us so he could pick something out, sort of. Amy had something in mind, called Toby the Tot Bot, when Andrew saw it, he couldn’t put it down, so, that is what we bought. From there we took Andrew home, allowing him to play with his new toy in the car on the way.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Baltimore City School Fires & Violence

One of the headlines I saw on the Baltimore Sun’s website was something like “School Fires Due to Lack of Security Guards”. I thought this was a stupid quote. School fires are due to students who set fires. Duh. While security guards can help prevent these things, I would say that eliminating the source of the problem is a better solution. Students who disrupt the educational process need to be disciplined appropriately. The blame here can’t be placed on the Baltimore City School’s budget problems. Of course, that is what the school administration and Mayor’s office will be quick to blame the budget, they will try to use it to get more money out of the State of Maryland. Why do students in Baltimore City deserve more state money than students in the counties? I guess it is because Baltimore City Schools can mismanage the money better than their county counterparts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Where is the UPS guy?

I’ve been waiting all day for the UPS truck to show up with my new Dell computer. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I know it is out for delivery somewhere in Frederick Md. Did I mention that I live about a mile from the UPS hub here in Frederick?

Google Desktop Search

I installed Google desktop search the other day. It is working out quite well. I’ve used it several times now for an actual purpose. Since I do a lot of my finances online, I have a lot of different logons and passwords. I used it to find my treasury direct logon, my pin number for Verizon Wireless, and the password for Adelphia.

Of course I’ve messed around with it a bit. It is so fast, about 100 times faster than Windows XP searching, and 1000 times faster than searching in outlook. It doesn’t seem to be slowing my PC down at all.

Microsoft says they are going to have their own search soon, but until then,

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Car in the shop

I’m wasting a ton of mony on brakes again. I really shouldn’t put them off until the are completely useless. They aren’t that hard to do, but when they die in the middle of the week, there isn’t much you can do. Fortunately, I can work from home and still get enough done to say I worked. Since the car was going in the shop and I was going to miss a day of work anyway, I decided to get the tune up and timing belt too. I’m probably going to end up spending $1000 on the car.

My monitors arrived today. They are sitting in their boxes down stairs. I guess I will wait until the computer arrives before seting things up. I don’t want to get side tracked tomorrow from work. That will be kind of hard, because my computer should arrive tomorrow anyway. I’ll have to hold out until four o’clock.

I was disappointed to see that Dell was offering a sale on notebook computers today. You could get a nice Inspiron 9100 for about $800. My mother picked one up w/ 3.2GHz 512 meg ram, 40 gb hard drive, 64mb ATI Mobility 9700, and a CDRW. It was regularly $1,549, she picked it up for $799. The deal was $750 off Inspirons over $1500. Not that I want a laptop, but Amy does. She actually needed a computer before me. The plan was to get her one this year, and me one next year. But I didn’t want to pass up the 40% off deal, and the best deal for 40% off was something with two 20” flat panels.

Monday, October 18, 2004

New Dell Ordered

My new Dell computer should ship today. I ordered it on Thursday night at about 7:50 PM. Dell had a deal for 40% off desktop computers over $2499. The deal ended at 8:00 PM that night. I ended up buying a Dell Dimension 8400 Series with two 20” flat panel monitors.

The Specifications:

Intel Pentium 4 Processor at 3 GHz with 800 MHz front side bus
1GB DDR2 SDRAM at 400 MHz
128MB PCI Express x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon X300 SE Video Card
160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
Dual Optical Drives 48x CD-RW and 16X DVD+RW
Two 20 in (20.0 in viewable) 2001FP Digital Flat Panel Display

The whole thing ended up costing me $1,618.80. Kind of pricy for a 3 GHz with a low end video card, but the two 20” flat panel displays were most of the cost.

I’m looking forward to its arrival so I can get it set up, and then get my old computer set up for Amy to use. She needs a faster computer to play the SIMS 2.

Mountain Dew

It isn't even noon and I'm on my third Mountian Dew of the day. Did I mention that this is my on call week for work?


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Andrew made $108.81

In October of 2000, I set up a one year CD account with $1,000 for Andrew at 5.1% APY. Each year following, the APY went down; last year it was 1% and the renewal was going to be for 1% this year. I realized that it would make more sense just to use that money to buy savings bonds. I closed the account and put $8.81 into Andrew’s savings account and spent the remaining $1,100 several denominations of savings bonds. Andrew now has five $200 bonds, eight $100 bonds, & eight $50 bonds. I was in a bit of a hurry, I now wish I would have bought three $500, four $100, & four $50.

My CIV3 game is getting interesting. I’m trying to take over the world and have run into a snag. First, I accidentally nuked my main staging city for an invasion of the Spanish. I probably destroyed twenty-five modern armor units and ten mechnizied infantry units. Not to mention cutting my supply rail roads and spreading pollution all around. The Spanish also captured two of my four key air bases that I was using to bomb their cities. I had them defended fairly well, two modern armor units and one mechanized infantry unit each, but the Spanish used about six modern armor units each to take the bases. That cost me eighteen to twenty stealth bombers, a couple of stealth fighters, and a few standard jet fighters. I could call for peace right now, but I’m thinking that I will just escalate the fight to nuclear. I have twenty-five ICBMs ready to go, the Spanish have none that I know of, and only one tactical nuke. My plan is to take three cities right in the center of their cultural influence, effectively splitting their land into two halves, north and south. Most of their population is in the south, while most of their war making resources are in the north. I may call a peace after that and see what happens.

Yestarday was Amy’s twenty-third birthday. Check out her journal for the details.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Let’s just say about 70,000

Where do they dig up these products? Mailsweeper strikes again. When I worked at the US Department of Labor we had Mailsweeper. It was the most problematic component of our e-mail system. After failure and more failure, they finally agreed to get rid of it. Problem solved. I get a new job, and what do they run for their mail gateway? Mailsweeper. Basically, it broke this weekend and we came in to 70,000 unprocessed e-mail messages that had to be parsed manually and moved to other servers to be processed. Fortunately, there was a test mailsweeper server that we could put some of the load on. Still, it had to be done manual and took all day. The product is broken all the time, and when it works, it simply doesn’t perform. Simply put; POS.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Work all night and all day

I worked from home last night. I had to move several mailboxes to other mail stores due to space problems. The process is slow, especially for some of the mailboxes that are over one gigabyte. I think I’ve went off in my blog about e-mail storage before. Anyway, I was up until about 3:30 in the morning. Needless to say, I am working from home today instead of going into the office. Sometimes I actually think I get more done when I’m working at home. I’ve done some tickets, follow ups, mail restores, and some general system review.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Ansari X Prize

Space Ship One - N328KF - has won X Prize. The spacecraft unofficially topped out at 368,000 feet, about 69.5 miles above the Earth. The flight looked perfect, I watched the live webcast. Near the top of the first flight, the ship started rolling on its axis, kind of heart stopping. This flight was less eventful, but I still got that anxious feeling, just hoping nothing goes wrong. The ship just landed at Mojave Space Port (that sounds so cool! It kind of reminds me of Mos Eisley Space Port from Star Wars).

The X Prize was inspired by the prize offered to the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, designed to ignite an era of commercial space flight. The prize awards ten million dollars to the first person or company to fly a reusable spaceship to 62.5 miles or higher, return safely to the Earth, and repeat the flight with the same ship within two weeks. The ship has to be capable of carrying three people to space and either carries three people or a pilot and weight equivalent to three people.

Civilization III

I am now addicted to a new computer game. It isn’t a new game, it has been out since 2001. It is a game that I never really thought about buying, mainly because I was getting more into the first person shooter type games. I kept a few real time strategy games like Age of Empires around, they were fun. No other strategy game I have ever played is as good as Civilization III though.

It all started shortly after I re-built Amy’s laptop with its new hard drive. She installed the game and was playing it. I found it interesting, and suggested that we play a multiplayer game this Saturday. We ended up playing all weekend! I don’t think Amy would have played that much if it wasn’t for me, we logged about 13 hours of game play on Saturday & Sunday. Friday night’s game was lost when my computer crashed.

Why is Civilization III so cool? I like the fact that there are many aspects to the game. You have to build economies, culture, military, and many other aspects of civilization to succeed. I also like the turn based style of play. The turns allowed me to play the network game with Amy against 3 computer players and still get laundry done.

I eventually realized that Amy didn’t want to play anymore, so I started a single player game. Even in single player, it is great. I think I might buy the other expansion pack, conquests; we already have Play the World.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Presidential Debate

Like many Americans, I watched the debates last night on television. I chose to watch my local PBS station because CBS was probably running a fake copy anyway. I’m just kidding about CBS. It was pretty good, the candidates were pretty informative, and clearly had similar goals, but different ways to go about them. I was particularly about the discussions regarding North Korea, in my opinion, more dangerous than Iraq. When it comes to Iraq, Kerry made it clear that more troops would be sent if he were elected. This isn’t necessarily bad, but he indicated that Bush would do nothing more. I doubt that is the case, when military commanders have requested more troops, Bush authorized it. Kerry also mentioned the “pseudo draft”, referring to the stop loss orders. This wan an obvious attempt to scare Americans into thinking they would be drafted for Iraq. The more troops idea, would most certainly require some sort of increase in the size of the military. What was not said was how this would be achieved, I think Kerry might be thinking draft himself, but of course he can’t say that until elected. Kerry had a lot of good points that Bush couldn’t really rebut. Have I decided to vote for Kerry, no, not yet anyway. I’m not very fond of Bush, but I think he has the right idea overall. I think Kerry might get caught up in a mess of indecision, send more troops to Iraq, no wait, Afghanistan, no wait, send them to South Korea, no wait, its all wrong, bring them home. That isn’t really what I’m looking for.